Friday, May 24, 2019

Sphinx Organization Awards 2019 MPower Artist Grants!

$100,000 in grants

16 recipients

7 musicians attending festivals, lessons, or masterclasses

5 project or organization launches

4 new instruments, recordings, or equipment

Hundreds more lives transformed
MPower Artist Grants empower Sphinx alumni to achieve their career objectives in classical music.

This year's recipients will:
  • create a community-connected chamber music series,
  • launch a Performing Arts Institute to educate and empower young people,
  • attend weekly music lessons,
  • prepare for college auditions,
  • expand an after-school guitar and choral music program,
  • ...and much more!
Read about all projects and recipients

John Malveaux: Washington Post: Statue of Liberty was created to celebrate freed slaves

The original torch and flame, and a full-scale face model, are displayed in the new Statue of Liberty Museum in New York. (Richard Drew/AP)

May 23 
The new Statue of Liberty Museum in New York Harbor boasts a number of treasures: the original torch, which was replaced in the 1980s; an unoxidized (read: not green) copper replica of Lady Liberty’s face; and recordings of immigrants describing the sight of the 305-foot monument.

It also revives an aspect of the statue’s long-forgotten history: Lady Liberty was originally designed to celebrate the end of slavery, not the arrival of immigrants. Ellis Island, the inspection station through which millions of immigrants passed, didn’t open until six years after the statue was unveiled in 1886. The plaque with the famous Emma Lazarus poem — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — wasn’t added until 1903.

“One of the first meanings [of the statue] had to do with abolition, but it’s a meaning that didn’t stick,” Edward Berenson, a history professor at New York University and author of the book “The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story,” said in an interview with The Washington Post.

The monument, which draws 4.5 million visitors a year, was first imagined by a man named Édouard de Laboulaye. In France, he was an expert on the U.S. Constitution and, at the close of the American Civil War, the president of a committee that raised and disbursed funds to newly freed slaves, according to Yasmin Sabina Khan, author of the book “Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty.”

Laboulaye loved America — often giving speeches described by a New York Times correspondent in 1867 as “feasts of liberty which move the souls of men to their deepest depths” — and he loved it even more when slavery was abolished.

In June 1865, Laboulaye organized a meeting of French abolitionists at his summer home in Versailles, Berenson said.

University of Chicago: 200+ musicians join together in a stirring call for understanding

Photo from the 2017 performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in the annual Heifetz Concerts.

The University of Chicago Department of Music

200+ musicians join together in a stirring call for understanding and acceptance

"I would know my shadow and my light, so shall I at last be whole... Here is no final grieving, but an abiding hope."
In the late summer of 1939, and on the eve of the British declaration of war, the young composer Michael Tippett began work on a new composition, a musical response to current events. Inspired by the horrific treatment of European Jews by the Nazis, the openly gay Tippett set out to create a new, secular oratorio that would encompass the suffering of anyone who has been "rejected, cast out from the center of our society onto the fringes: into slums, into concentration camps, into ghettos."

The result is a stunning piece of art that combines African-American spirituals with twentieth-century classical music. On Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, the University Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and Motet Choir join together with guest vocalists Kimberly Jones, Leah Dexter, Adrian Dunn, and Bill McMurray to perform this stirring and timely call for understanding and acceptance, and we invite you to join us. Both concerts are free and open to the public and take place in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago.
University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorus, and Motet Choir
with Kimberly Jones, soprano; Leah Dexter, mezzo-soprano;
Adrian Dunn, tenor; and Bill McMurray, baritone
Barbara Schubert, conductor

In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers
Who Died for Democracy..................................William Grant Still
I Open My Mouth to the Lord (for Eric Garner)...........Traditional (arr. Adrian Dunn)
Wade in the Water (for Philando Castile)....................Traditional (arr. Adrian Dunn)
Excerpts from Spirituals for Orchestra........................
Morton Gould
A Child of Our Time.....................................................Michael Tippett

Mandel Hall
1131 East 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Free Admission. Donations requested: $10 general, $5 students

Pre-concert lecture: one hour before each performance, Humanities Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow Lindsay Wright gives a lecture titled "Listening Back, Looking Forward: Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time" in the McCormick Tribune Lounge inside the Reynolds Club.
For more information visit or call 773.702.8484

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Eric Conway: Morgan Choir's Days 3 & 4 in Scotland and England!

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

After an exceptional concert on Tuesday night in Perth, Scotland, the choir had two days of travel. On our way to our next concert in Chester, England on Friday, we had two leisurely travel days through Scotland and England to see some of the local sites.

We had a three hour - 145 mile drive to a local holiday destination, known as England's "Lake District”. Our first stop was to a famous or notorious place called Gretna Green just on the Scottish border before entering England. At some point, English law decreed that a person must be twenty-one years of age to get married, however the nearby country of Scotland said that they did not want to stand in the way of LOVE and allowed young persons in love to get married at a much younger age than in England. Entrepreneurs who saw a great way to exploit this difference in law, created a business of marrying young English persons just over the border. This place was similar to our Las Vegas as far as quick weddings were concerned, in fact, when we were over six weddings scheduled on the day that we were there! While we were there, part of the guide’s schtick was to re-enact a wedding in front of the visiting group. We had two couples within the choir, with surrogate parents, who agreed to be actors for this exercise. This was wildly entertaining for the group. We all ate lunch at this location.

From there we visited the Lake District, a community famous for its lakes, forests, and mountains, and its inspiration to many artists and poets. Prior to our arriving at our hotel, we stopped in Grasmere, a community known for the home of a very famous English poet, William Wordsworth. From there, we checked in at a very Victorian hotel for the evening in the Lake District, eating a group dinner before turning into bed. During the dinner, as has been the case on many of our tours, we managed to have someone who had a birthday during the tour, when we all sang Happy Birthday!

The next day, everyone was excited because our next stop was in Liverpool, famous for many reasons, but most notably because it was the home of the Beatles. While there we walked around the Liverpool waterfront area, that felt eerily like Baltimore's Harborplace area. We had a great group lunch, where everyone had what initially appeared to be an ordinary - a hamburger and chips, but the burger and fries were superior to most American burgers. While in the restaurant we sang a Beatles Tune, which was well received by all in the establishment.

From there we went to the Beatles Museum. Although most students were too young to truly appreciate the Beatles prior to this tour, the museum was so very engaging, and I believe all the younger students gleamed a greater appreciation of the Beatles and their impact on the world!

From there we were surprised to visit the International Slavery Museum. This gave a world-view of the inhumane slavery commodity that touched much of Western Europe, Africa, South America, and of course North America. Our tour guide wisely chose to take us to this museum, knowing that we all had a vested interest in the slave trade history as African-Americans.

Within the same building was an exhibition dedicated to the Titanic tragedy, as this ship departed from Liverpool! These museums, Beatles, Slavery, and Titanic were all conveniently and ironically in the same large building!

After the tours, we traveled another hour to Chester, England where we would stay for two nights and prepare for our Chester Cathedral concert on Friday afternoon.

See attached more photos than usual trying to share the experience of these two days of travel. Also see a few links to impromptu Beatles performances in Liverpool.

Bagpipes performance in Gretna Green:

Morgan performances in Liverpool in front of Beatles museum:

In Liverpool restaurant Bills:
Here Comes the Sun: